The “Stop Secret Surveillance” ordinance has been passed 8-1 by the city’s board of supervisors.
The ordinance bans facial recognition technology being used by local agencies such as law enforcement. Additionally any future plans to buy any kind of new surveillance technology will have to be approved by city administrators first. The ban won’t stop private citizens or businesses using the technology.
The ordinance reads:
“The propensity for facial recognition technology to endanger civil rights and civil liberties substantially outweighs its purported benefits, and the technology will exacerbate racial injustice and threaten our ability to live free of continuous government monitoring.”
Matt Cagle, attorney at the ACLU of Northern California said:
“With this vote, San Francisco has declared that face surveillance technology is incompatible with a healthy democracy and that residents deserve a voice in decisions about high-tech surveillance.
“We applaud the city for listening to the community, and leading the way forward with this crucial legislation. Other cities should take note and set up similar safeguards to protect people’s safety and civil rights.”
Those supporting the ban stated that the technology is unreliable and extremely invasive, whilst opponents argued that the ban would disrupt police investigations and would prevent a public safety tool being utilised.
Joel Engardio, vice-president of Stop Crime SF, argued that a moratorium would have been more appropriate than a ban stating:
“We agree there are problems with facial recognition ID technology and it should not be used today. But the technology will improve and it could be a useful tool for public safety when used responsibly. We should keep the door open for that possibility.”
“Face surveillance won’t make us safer, but it will make us less free.”
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